For many The Hague Agreement for the international protection of industrial designs is one of those backwaters of IP law, a bit of a niche interest like the UPOV treaty for protection of plant varieties. However, this modest sibling of the PCT and Madrid Protocol won a major endorsement on 18 December 2012 when President Obama signed it into US law as part of the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act.
IPCopy gave an overview back in October of how the Hague Agreement could be used to effectively expand protection obtained under an EU Registered Design to significant non-EU countries in Europe such as Switzerland, Turkey and Norway. It seems that when the legislation comes into effect in the US, in about a year’s time, design holders on both sides of the Atlantic will be able to use the system to streamline acquisition of design protection in both the US and EU – the World’s two largest consumer markets. This is a major development for IP holders especially in product manufacturing and FMCG industries where design patents/registered designs will often sit alongside patent and trade mark protection.
If anyone was in doubt as to the value of industrial design protection they only have to look at how hotly contested some aspects of the ongoing Apple v Samsung patent war have been. If the folks at WIPO could now convince China to sign up as well then we would really be in business!